|Chinese, Saudi Arabian leaders pledge to deepen ties, jointly tackle financial crisis (02/11/09)|
RIYADH, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- China and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday vowed to deepen their strategic friendly ties, work together to tackle the global financial crisis and strengthen coordination in international and regional affairs.
The pledge came during the talks between Chinese President Hu Jintao, who arrived here earlier in the day for his second state visit to the Gulf nation, and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz.
"China-Saudi Arabia ties have developed rapidly and reached an all-time high since the heads of states exchanged their visits in 2006," Hu told King Abdullah.
Hu last traveled to Saudi Arabia in April 2006, three months after King Abdullah paid a historic visit to Beijing. The king's visit was the first by a Saudi head of state to China since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1990.
Hu said China values the important role Saudi Arabia has played in safeguarding regional peace and stability and ensuring international energy security.
China has always dealt with its relations with Saudi Arabia from a strategic point of view, he said.
"The international situation is undergoing complicated and profound changes. In particular, the global financial crisis has posed severe challenges to us," Hu said.
To elevate bilateral ties, Hu proposed the two countries maintain high-level visits and establish a high-level consultation mechanism.
On the economic front, Hu said both countries should take advantage of their own resources and markets, promote an all-round energy partnership and expand two-way investment.
Saudi Arabia is now China's largest trading partner in West Asia and North Africa, with two-way trade hitting 41.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2008.
Calling for greater scope and scale of trade cooperation, Hu said the Chinese government encourages more Chinese businesses with capacities to participate in infrastructure construction in Saudi Arabia to upgrade the level of project contracting and labor cooperation.
Hu also proposed the two countries boost exchanges in education, sports and tourism.
On world affairs, Hu expected both countries to improve the communication and consultations on important international and regional issues and ensure regional peace and stability.
Hu also called for stronger cooperation within the framework of China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Saudi Arabia is a member of the GCC, which plays an important role in maintaining peace and stability in the Gulf region and boosting regional economic development, as well as contributing to international energy markets.
The GCC, established in 1981, consists of six Arab countries, namely Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Hu also appreciated the support Saudi Arabia has offered to China in the country's post-quake relief efforts and the Beijing Summer Olympics held last August.
After the 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit western China and claimed nearly 90,000 lives in May 2008, King Abdullah offered a cash donation of 50 million dollars and materials worth 10 million dollars.
King Abdullah echoed Hu's views on bilateral relations, saying both countries enjoy fraternal ties and China is Saudi Arabia's most sincere friend.
He said it is in the common interests of both countries to foster friendship and Saudi Arabia has a strong will to promote bilateral ties.
The king said his country would like to seek stronger cooperation in trade, economic and other fields with China and exchange views on international issues of common concern.
The king said the GCC has sound cooperation with China and all member countries would like to further develop ties.
On the financial crisis, Hu said China and Saudi Arabia should step up coordination, work more closely on trade and investment, jointly respond to and guard against financial risks, in a bid to ensure the two countries' economic and financial stability.
Hu and King Abdullah agreed on keeping closer communication on reforming the world financial system, particularly on a Group of 20 financial summit to be held in London in April.
Following the talks, Hu and King Abdullah witnessed the signing ceremony of five cooperation deals in energy, health, quarantine, transportation and culture.
Hu is also scheduled to meet GCC Secretary General Abdul Rahman Al-Attiya to discuss cooperation between China and GCC member countries on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia is the first leg of Hu's five-nation tour. The week-long trip will also take him to Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius.